Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Poetry for Learning German

Der Schluessellochgucker

von Adrian-Moritz, 5 Jahre

Adrian geh vom Schluesselloch,
der Weihnachtsmann der sieht das doch!
Geht davon wenn man ihn stoert,
Adrian hast du nicht gehoert?
Aber Adrian der tat es doch,
schaute durch das Schuesselloch,
Weihnachtsmann veraergert sehr,
ging davon und kam nicht mehr.

Wolf learned this poem in class today. I love this poem-- already the title, with its forever LONG noun which translates to "the guy who is peeking through the keyhole"!

Wolf is loving his German class, and does pretty well. He's got a real advantage , esp. pronunciation-wise, since he's heard a bit of German here & there...

But, I'm GUILTY, I did not teach my children my mother tongue. alas!
WHY, you may ask, didn't I?

Well, it's complicated. I grew up in a German family, but lived in Chile and the Philippines for all but 5 years of my non-infant childhood. My parents managed to keep the German language alive: it was always spoken at home, while we spoke Spanish or English on the playground. When I was 17, I came to this country to study at university -- and never left...
Along comes American husband #1 who was attracted to my cute accent at first, but by the time we had our child, Eldest, he did not want me to speak a foreign language (nor have an accent)! What's a young mom to do? -- it was easier just to stick to English, and sing the occasional lullaby in German... By the time the marriage had broken apart, English was entrenched, and Eldest was in full-time daycare, while I was just trying to keep my head above water...

Along comes husband #2 (I can stop counting now!), an American of Swedish descent, who had no problem with my accent -- in fact, he says he can't even hear it anymore. We were both graduate students, plenty busy, and when the wolf pup arrived, we just kept on speaking English -- after all, Eldest would have been left out... True, that would have been a good time to start the Swede and Eldest on learning German, but we were WAY too busy working on our doctorate degrees...

Life did slow down when we moved to Alaska, where the pixie was born. The Prof had finished his PhD, and I had long ago given up on mine (another long story), so life was simple: diapers, baking bread, quilting, discovering Alaska... learning German as a family would have been nice, but we were way too entrenched in the "Englische" World by then, plus did not have any Teutons to "quatschen" with (The one Swiss German I met does not count -- I could barely understand her!)

So I leave you with one more poem, this one written by a local teacher, for teaching the irregular German verb for "to be":
Ich bin hier,
Du bist da,
Er ist in Amerika.
Wir sind gross,
Ihr seid klein,
Sie sind an dem schoenen Rhein.


denise said...

My husband also grew up speaking only German in the home. The boys have not really learned much yet, much to my in-laws dismay. My husband finds himself speaking English all the time and only using German when family is visiting, or when reading books aloud. Since I am home with the kids all the time and am NOT good with the language yet, well, it falls by the wayside. I am trying to learn though, so that we can all be more fluent before the boys get so old is it a big struggle. I have a feeling we will have a tutor to help us out later on. :)

It is great he has a resource to learn German there!

honeypiehorse said...

My German husband had no problem with me speaking German with our kids and tried to laugh at my mistakes quietly. The main thing was to get them speaking it while we were in California, the polishing could come later. If you still have a child under 3, I spoke different languages to my kids in California - German with my oldest to keep her in fighting form and English with my youngest because I knew we'd be coming back to the Fatherland and there would be time enough for her to pick it up then. Worked pretty well although my youngest still speaks Dinglish.

PolarBearCreations said...

Love the poem!
I feel a bit guilty as well for not teaching my boys more German.
When I followed my Canadian husband 15 years ago to Canada , our oldest son was 10 weeks old. Usually if you have a two languages in the family , each parent speaks his language with the child. Well, I still had to learn english and my husband was away on courses a lot. I had a private home daycare and somehow I never managed to run every day in English and German. I taught all my 3 boys the basics when they were babies , colors, body parts, fruits and veggies and such, we had all the German picture books and read them a lot, but later it just stopped.
I believe that they still have a good base to start off if they want to take up German at any time. They hear me speak German often, with family and friends and we have been in Germany as well.
Maybe one of the boys will have a chance to have German in school at some point.
Have a wonderful day!

Kitchen Sister said...

I didn't know some of that story... sorry for being annoying and rude. Although I'd still love to practice German with you if I ever get around to picking up some teach-yourself material. And maybe visiting your birthplace with you sometime?

Anonymous said...

That's not an original poem - all German teachers teach it.

Kevin said...
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